Something Yet To Come: Ruminations and Reflections on Romans 8

SOMETHING YET TO COME
Romans 8 – especially vs. 18-27

 
In the first 17 verses of Romans 8 we are assured that God has set us free from the law of sin and death, and in its place we are urged to give the control of our lives over to the Spirit. This humble yielding is not, however, without it’s struggles and problems. The war for our lives (Romans 7:21-24) leaves us breathlessly hanging on to God while he completely hangs on to us. We struggle in our lives to follow Him through the various difficulties of the urgings of the flesh. The struggle is worth it, however, because we are waiting for something yet to come (8:18). I really feel that these struggles are not so much outside persecutions and problems in life, but rather the inward struggle, the weakness, the calling of the sinful nature that does not want to die…even as we are called to glory.
 
What is this glory that will be revealed in us? I believe it begins when we accept the new life in Christ (Romans 6), but it is always out of reach. We are like the earth, subdued by the curse of sin it did not create, yearning for a time when it will be releasted from bondage. It is waiting to be brought into freedom… the freedom of the children of God. How ironic. We do not feel free. We feel shackled by the reality of sin in our own life and we groan ourselves for a time to be free. Along with the creation we groan for something that is yet to come…a glorious freedom. The glorious freedom to be revealed in us has to do with the desire of God to give life to our mortal bodies (8:11) … the redemption of our bodies (8:23). The word ‘resurrection’ is not found here, but it is certainly what Paul has in mind. We are conformed to the likeness of his son (8:29), which ultimately means we are glorified (30). Just as Jesus, we are heirs of eternal life in that glorified state.
 
So we struggle through our weakness (8:26) into ultimate glory – a glory which is only ours because of Jesus Christ (8:3-4). But we do not struggle to hang on to our salvation (8:37-39), we struggle against sin, with the power and help of the Spirit. He lives in us and we are to be controlled by Him (8:9-11). He assists us in putting to death the misdeeds of the body (8:13). He is a Spirit of sonship, linking us to our Father (8:15-16). He prays for us, saying things that we cannot verbalize (8:26-27). He knows our minds (8:27) and rushes to assist us in our time of need.
 
And we wait for something yet to come, glory in a resurrected body through the power of the resurrected One – Jesus Christ. We wait along with all creation (8:19). We wait eagerly (8:23). We wait hopefully (8:24). We wait patiently (8:25). We wait prayerfully (8:26). We are waiting for the sons of God to be revealed (glorified) to all creation. The adoption process has started. We can now call out to our Abba Father (8:15-16). There is more to come, though. When it is completed we will all mysteriously be firstborn among many brothers (8:29), which is God’s pre-determined will. We remain a people who are waiting for the full adoption (8:24-25).
 
In all things God is working for the good of his adopted children (8:28). What things? Everything that happens … or the things that relate to our struggles against the enemy as God empowers us, His Spirit prays for us, and the Father retains us in His keeping? In the war we fight, God prevails every time. We are more than conquerors, though we had not the strength to fight. He has won the battle.
 
Ironies abound. We are adopted yet awaiting adoption. We are more than conquerors yet remain in battle. We have been changed, yet we await a change. We have been glorified, yet we await the resurrected glory that will be ours. The creation groans for this day … as do we … and even the Spirit groans on our behalf. We are waiting for something yet to come.
 
*Why would this message be important to the Jews in Rome? To the Gentiles? How does it speak to the setting  of the Roman church?
 
*What practical implications do we have from this teaching?
 
*Why do we seldom talk about the resurrection…our own? Do we have a resurrectionless Christianity?
 
*Why do we struggle so with putting to death the misdeeds of the body?
 
*Do the ironies of this passage bother you?
 
*Do you think many people are skeptical of Christianity because they do not grasp the “waiting for something yet to come”?
 
*What would it mean to our daily lives if we regarded ourselves as ‘waiting’?
 
*How does this passage speak to the existential longings of humans for something better? How does our longing for something better play out in the fields of science, social interaction, or even in religion?
 
*Personal Reflection: What areas of yoru life have you refused to relenquish control to the Spirit?
 
 
john dobbs

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